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No More Boring Photos!

~ Learn to See ~

Mar 4, 2013

Maureen Spagnolo

[See samples of photos at bottom of article.]

Photography is about vision and discovery. What was it that caught your attention about that scene? Pause. Take some time to think about the image, and what it is that you see. Go ahead and take the obvious photo, and then take a few more until you have the exposure and focus just right.

Now, look again. Where is the light striking? What is the story here? Are you satisfied with the image on your screen?

Sometimes, it means coming back at another time of the day to have the light just right. Or, it may simply mean finding other vantage points to shoot from. If you’re shooting a landscape, consider getting lower so that you can have some of the foreground in the image. Look around. You may need to go to another point to get the best shot.

Try shooting in black and white. Most cameras have such a setting. It’s a great way to see the shades of gray in your image, and understand the quality of the light.

Learning to understand the tonal range of the scene in black and white will teach you to visualize the final image in color, and to decide whether additional tools are needed to get the photo you want.

You may need to use a neutral density, or a polarizing filter. Or, you might take the image at different exposures that can be merged into a High Definition Resolution image in post processing. Or, you may want to simply use a tripod in order to take a long exposure, as is the case with water shots, to get a creamy water effect.

Think about how you want this image to look, and what you’d like it to convey in terms of emotion. The photographer is an artist. Even in the days of film [before digital cameras], the photographer created the final look he wanted, during post-processing, in the darkroom.

Study images you like, in the genre you prefer to shoot in.

Does your image convey your vision?

Don’t let your eyes restrict you to what you see. Allow your mind to direct your creation – thus turning a snapshot into a work of art that conveys a vision that is true to you. In this way, you will begin to develop your own personal style.

Notes About Photos:

Try the same scene multiple times to get the lighting you visualize. Don’t settle for “just okay.”

The two identical images in color, and black and white illustrate an establishing shot – to “see” the light and the shapes.

Beach #1 Beach #2
Beach #3 Archway #1
Archway #2 Archway #3
Pathway #1 Pathway #2

Maureen Spagnolo is a photographer, living in Washington, DC. She writes on a variety of social issues in addition to her photography articles.

Her passion for photography began in her twenties when she fell in love with a photographer, and then took her first photography class. She used any camera she could get her hands on - until she got her first DSLR camera several years ago. Since then, she has gone gangbusters - taking photos like a junkie (!) and reading everything about photography she could find. She now owns enough (never enough!) cameras, lenses, tripods, and camera paraphernalia to warrant an add-on to her home owner's insurance.

Yet, photography is not about equipment. It's about passion, and seeing - qualities that can turn a cell phone into a tool which can compete with the most expensive camera.

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